AU R18+ Rating is a Go

December 6, 2010 -

Australian gamers concerned that recent elections and the relative silence of politicians on the issue, will be happy to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the R18+ rating. According to News.com.au by way of Joystiq and Gamspot (thanks to Shoutboxer Cheater87 for the tips), Australia's federal cabinet has approved the R18+ rating. This means that games that might usually be banned from the Australian games market will now be available and will avoid having to be edited and then resubmitted for reclassification.

Games like the Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, F.E.A.R., and Left 4 Dead series would fall under this new rating. Those wanting to play these games would have to be age 18 or older to purchase them, of course. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor will take the Government's new position to a meeting of state and territory attorneys-general later this week to seek approval in changing the system.

"Children and teenagers shouldn't be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games," O'Connor told News.com.au. "Over time, we've allowed games to get into the hands of 15-year-olds that would not have been available in comparable countries; that should not have happened."

One caveat is that O'Connor "guaranteed" that he would not allow games banned in Australia to be approved for release under the new R18+ classification, if it is approved. According to the News.com.au report, changes to the classification system require agreement of all states and territories as well as the federal government.

How long it might take to make these changes is unknown, but at least an effort is finally being made to change the ratings system in a way that makes sense for parents who don't want their children playing games that aren't age appropriate - and for adults that want to be able to play the same games the rest of the world does.

Source: Newscom.au, GameSpot, Joystiq

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Comments

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

I don't think the R18 will happen but even if it does, very violent and sexual games will just be refused classification anyway.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

We know its not the end of censorship/bannings just less of it if this passes.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

You think the introduction of the R18 rating will decrease the amount of games banned?  I don't.  I also don't think we'll ever get to see if that's the case.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

 

This WILL decrease the number of games that get banned, but it won't eliminate it entirely.

One thing you need to realise is that Australia in NOT America. We have a rating system that has legislative and punitive teeth.  When movies (and soon games hopefully) are rated as R18+, then retail stores and cinema are not allowed by law to let anyone purchase access to that media.  This is exactly the same restriction that you have been fighting AGAINST with the California laws only just recently ... and yet we take that restriction for granted, and frankly it doesn't bother us one bit.  It's like a Universal Healthcare system; we'd be horrified if that was taken away from us.

That said, the principle ammunition used by those against an R18+ rating has been games like Rapelay. If that was submitted for classification, would it be refused classification? You betcha!  The only difference between Australia and America in this case is that the stores themselves become the censors in America as opposed to the government ( ... I always found it amusing that Australia got the uncensored version of "The Witcher", whereas stores in the US refused to carry it.

What however this will do is bring some kind of parity between games released in overseas and Australia.  Games that would otherwise be rated as 18 in the UK (like "Fallout 3") would be given an R18+ rating over here and would not need to be cut.  There would be no reason to ban games like "Left4Dead2" or censor "GTA4".  Why?  Because there would be an R18+ rating that has the teeth to force heavy fines on stores selling those games to minors ... something that those stores want to avoid.  Incidentally those measures currently exist with MA15+ games, so it's nothing new.

So ... we'll see.  It will make a difference, if it gets in.  But we still we to get past the West Australian Attorney General first.  The government in WA has changed since the last vote and he's under pressure from his party (the "Liberal Party" ... which is the conservative side of politics over here) to reject the proposal.

Anyway ... that meetings happening on Friday.  Fingers crossed.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

1.  I know that Australia is not America, thank you very much.

2.  You don't know that the introduction of the R18 rating will reduce the number of RC titles any more than I know that it won't.

3.  I don't believe Australia will end up with the R18 rating but I'd love to be wrong.

4.  If it does, I don't believe that will affect the number of titles that get banned but again, I'd love to be wrong.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

You are most likely right. The biggest difference I see happening here are that games that were edited down to get the MA 15 rating will just be given an R18 rating. Most if not all games which were given RC and it stuck would probably remain that way.

It would certainly be nice if all games were rated, but in a society that allows for speech to be abridged, it will never happen.

The biggest difference between the US and AU ratings system, accounting for the implentation of the R18 rating, is that every game that is rated by the ESRB is given a rating. That is not so with the AU raitings board.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

The overwhelming majority of games that are RC'd or censored are done so because the review board determined that they weren't suitable for under 16s and they had nowhere higher to go, the exact same imagery would be classed as R18+ for videos.

 

The OFLC RC guidelines are extremely broad and a game would have to REALLY work to get RC'd under an expanded rating system. GTA, left 4 dead 2, bmx xxx, that shitty graffiti game (mark something, echo?) would in all probability have just been rated R and released unmolested. There's an outside chance that fallout 3 would still have been modded because it would skirt the OFLC guidelines of rewarding narcotic use since morphene is a real drug and had ingame benefits whereas the fictional medx isn't for sale in the real world. Rapelay would still be banned because of the sexual violence angle.

 

In a correction to the main story, this government announcement was an endorsement, not a legal approval as the article implies. Legally speaking this has an identical weighting to people complaining on forums, just more public and done by people who might get some attention paid to them. The decision is 100% in the hands of the state attorney generals who need a 100% agreement to implement the change. They may be swayed by the government endorsement but it's all up to them and it looks like the WA AG is now the wildcard who is the leading candidate to screw the thing up.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

R18 rated movies can also be censored because of a refused classification. So even with an R18 rating games can still be banned/censored.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

Those facts were never in question.  What we're debating is whether introducing an R18 for games will make a shred of difference.  I don't think it will but, as stated, I'd love to be wrong.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

Every step forward is good.  This would be a very positive result.  Not end of the war, but a good battle won.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

From what I read this is a step toward R18+, not the done deal.  Do folks more familiar with the ins and outs of the Aussie govt know differently?

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

This article states that this is the first step. The AU government has approved the new rating, it is now going to the State and Territory AG's for ratification. If they all agree, the new rating will go into affect, if not, they will have to start the whole process again.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

Ok, yeah that's what I got from it too.  Just making sure I wasn't missing something.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

This is incredibly good news. Good for them. Congrats to everyone who allowed this to happen.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

 Have the token "this is a deliberate act against families" press statements come from the Christian groups yet?

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

"Children and teenagers shouldn't be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games," O'Connor told News.com.au. "Over time, we've allowed games to get into the hands of 15-year-olds that would not have been available in comparable countries; that should not have happened."

I'm glad they saw the point of what the pro-R18+ movement were saying. I won't be at all surprised if we see a whole load of anti-R18+ Op-Eds popping up saying "now children will be exposed to all kinds of filth". That 'filth' was already published, with a MA15+ rating. This law is as much about 'protecting' kids as it is about removing censorship.

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

One caveat is that O'Connor "guaranteed" that he would not allow games banned in Australia to be approved for release under the new R18+ classification, if it is approved.

What is the point of keeping them banned? I understand not taking the effort to rate previously banned games on their own, but if a game studio requested a rating for a game that was previously refused classification, they should do their duty and assign it the R18 rating it should have received.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: AU R18+ Rating is a Go

Thats odd since banned movies were allowed once the R18 rating for movies was introduced. From wiki on Australian censorship "Customs Minister Don Chipp begins the development of a new classification system which includes the much-needed R18+ rating for adult content, meaning movies that were once banned are gradually released." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_films#Australia

 
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